Local nordic ski patrol receives national recognition
In its over 40 year history, the Bryan Mountain Nordic Ski Patrol has seen its fair share of injuries, accidents and missing people. Now, the National Ski Patrol is recognizing the team for its years of dedication with the honor of National Nordic Ski Patrol of the Year.
Around 100 volunteers make up the Bryan Mountain Nordic Ski Patrol, which patrols 70 miles of skiable track and 110 miles of backcountry, including Devil’s Thumb Ranch and the Indian Peaks. The team was honored out of all of the nordic ski patrols in the country, as well as the European division.
“It’s such a huge, huge honor to have won this award,” said former patrol director Bridget Johnson. “I did get a call from the awards coordinator himself, who’s in charge, (…) and he was like hey, I wanted to congratulate you because you guys were head and shoulders above the other applicants.”
Johnson said she had to send in a multi-page application to be considered for the distinction. Her application included the patrol’s training, its outreach, daily duties and a description of its members’ enthusiasm and commitment to the job.
“Not only is our patrol outstanding because of all of the classes that we teach, we promote from within, we’ve brought so many new instructors up through the ranks in all disciplines,” Johnson said. “We work with the public a lot. We’re always doing outreach with the community. (…) That all contributed to why we won the award.”
The patrol offers classes on mountaineering and avalanches, volunteers for community events like the Ranch to Ranch race and the Stagecoach Classic at Devil’s Thumb, provides first aid and even helps out the Rocky Mountain Division National Ski Patrol.
Aside from the work in the backcountry and in the community, member Lin Ballard, who started in 1974, said the patrol is a tight-knit group that cares about their duties and each other, which makes a big difference.
“It’s a great group of people who are all giving of themselves and want to learn more and then give that back to the community,” Ballard said. “It’s been a really big, important part of my life. It’s like a family really.”
Ballard said there was a time when only 12 people made up the patrol, but now the group has doubled in the past three years. The growth is mainly due to the patrol expanding into the backcountry, as well as the popularity of the patrol’s classes.
“I think there’s a lot of interest now in the backcountry, that’s grown quite a lot,” she said. “We not only help people who might be lost, but if the weather is deteriorating, we look at how they might be dressed, how they’re doing, we ask them how are you doing, do you know which way you’re going? (…) We do a lot of what they call preventive search and rescue.”
Even as the group grows, Mike Doberson, the patrol’s medical director, said they will remain committed to the National Ski Patrol motto of service and safety.
“We try to be as helpful as we can,” Doberson said. “We are really dedicated to serving and we’ve branched out as much as we could to cover additional areas and work with different agencies so it’s really been fun for me to take part in that.”
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